Huang Qi controls sweating, edema, and stamina

△Examples of Huang Qi's skin disorders with clear exudates. The skin is damaged, with clear fluid oozing out. imageⓒTEM.

The herb could used for chronic skin disorders and inflammation of skin ulcers

By Hyunchang Cho, L.Ac., Ph.D ([email protected])

  • Huang Qi: Symptom Indicator Score++/ Frequency of Use ++
  • Main Symptoms: Excessive sweating. Edema is also common. Sometimes pitting edema along the tibial line will also be present.
  • Possible Symptoms: Paresthesia (numbness) and paralysis may show. Huang Qi is sometimes used for skin disorders with serous exudates (clear oozing).
  • Tendency: Huang Qi patients are easily fatigued with weak stamina.

Pharmacological Hypothesis of Huang Qi

Dysfunction of water metabolism at the body surface → accumulation of interstitial fluid at the body surface

-Induces compensatory sweating by stimulating sweat glands Excessive sweating → Edema in the limbs and the whole body

-Increases interstitial fluid in the body surface → Skin disorders and inflammatory ulcers w/ serous discharge

-Decreased immunity and skin recovery due to disturbance of nutrient supply to the body surface

– Fluid retention in the body surface will disturb the sensory and motor nerve functions → Paresthesia (sensory nerve dysfunction). Decreased motility (motor dysfunction) due to localized muscle paralysis

Clinical Signs of Huang Qi

In Shang Han Lun and Jin Kui Yao Lue, Huang Qi is included in the following eight formulas:

 Main Symptoms: Excessive sweating or edema is common.

Excessive sweating is common.

-Clinical Expressions: ①I usually sweat a lot. ②I easily sweat when it’s just a little hot outside and if I move, sleep, or eat. ③Many patients say they feel heavy and tired after sweating a lot. They will be easily exhausted after sweating in a sauna or hot tub. ④Huang Qi’s excessive sweating is often accompanied by mild edema.

-Edema is common. External signs of edema (mentioned below) may be present.

External Signs of Water Edema: ①Pitting edema along the tibial line ②Puffy face ③Easily swells ④Standing or walking will induce leg swelling ⑤Sock marks ⑥Shoes become tighter ⑦Rings won’t come off in the morning.

Huang Qi’s edema may or may not be present according to the amount of Huang Qi used in a formula. And when present, Huang Qi’s edema can be either severe or mild. If the edema is severe, pitting edema along the tibial line may show, and if the edema is mild, pitting edema along the tibial line may not show.  

-Clinical Expressions: ①I easily swell. ②My face and eyelids look puffy. ③My face, hands, and feet usually swell up when I am tired, overworked, or wake up in the morning. ④When I let my hands hang down in the morning, they swell, and my rings won’t come off. ⑤My legs swell easily if I stand or walk long. My shoes would become tight due to swelling. I have sock marks.

Possible Symptoms

* Paresthesia (numbness) and paralysis may show.

* Huang Qi is sometimes used for skin disorders with serous exudates (clear oozing).

▷Huang Qi’s skin numbness (paresthesia) refers to an abnormal skin sensation, with one or several parts of the body feeling numb, like a foreign object. And Huang Qi’s paralysis is the impairment of voluntary muscle movements in one or several body parts. Motions will be awkward, slow, and deterred. Such symptoms are often complications, early signs of stroke, or complications of facial palsy.

I have successfully treated patients with Huang Qi Gui Zhi Wu Wu Tang for complications from facial palsy, such as numbness, abnormal sensations, impaired muscle movement of the face, drooping eyelids, impaired eye movement, and focusing problems due to ptosis, strabismus, and astigmatism.

▷Huang Qi is often used for skin disorders with damaged membranes, serous exudates (clear oozing), and inflammatory ulcers with slow recovery. In clinical practice, Huang Qi is sometimes used for persistent skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, or psoriasis. In rare cases, also used for chronic inflammation with serous exudates, such as rhinitis, sinusitis, or ear infection.


*Huang Qi patients are easily tired and fatigued with weak stamina.